Friday, May 12, 2017

The Deeper the Roots...

Almost two years ago, we drove this road, never imagining that it would ever become a daily drive for our family.  After close to twelve years at Fairview Baptist, our family is taking a new path, a path that we firmly believe God has directed us to follow.

Back in 2005, we packed all our belongings and traveled to the quaint town of Wake Forest, so that Marty could pursue seminary. We had already been in youth ministry for 4 years, but he desired to learn more and become better equipped for ministry in our future. Notice the word, "future."  We were tired at that point and honestly did not want a ministry job. With a one-year old in tow, no jobs, a contract on a townhome, and his acceptance letter in hand, we arrived in the Raleigh area.  But we soon discovered jobs were scarce, and we really wanted to be together as much as possible as a family.  Through what we only saw as God's providence, our seminary tour guide recommended Marty for his interim position at a church in Apex, NC.  I'll never forget driving down Ten-Ten Road our first Sunday there and feeling overwhelmed at why they would choose us.  

Over the years, Marty's job has changed, slowly increasing in responsibility, from youth to also children's ministry and then to family ministry.  Our family grew from arriving with one little girl to having our three precious young ladies.  We saw members come and go; our students grow not only physically, but spiritually; and our love for this church grow unlike anything we had ever experienced.  

But God has called us to move; this time away from everything we've known and loved.  From the first open door in this process we have slowly walked through, praying through each doorway. When we thought something would close the door, it didn't; instead swinging the door wider. God has used random messages from people over the past several months to confirm this decision.  Daily devotions have reassured us to trust God.  

Isaiah 43:19, "See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"

Isaiah 58:11, "The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."

Even the weekend that we went to visit the church in SC, we prayed for red flags.  I prayed that I would notice every single little thing that could be an issue in whether or not we should go.  Not a single red flag.  The encouragement and connection that God allowed through that weekend confirmed in both of us that He was leading us.  We knew the only thing holding us back from going was the fact that it would be the hardest move of our lives. 

There is no way to explain how hard this process has been. Telling our girls went so much better than we expected. There have certainly been hard days and many, many tears were shed, especially that first week.  But their attitudes have been amazing thus far!  People have commented that "at least we homeschool!?" indicating that it should make things easier.  As much as this could be true, it's not.  There has been just as much mourning over leaving our Thursday homeschool group, our home that is our refuge, and most of all, our church which is all my girls have ever known.  Ministry is our life.  The people in it are our family.  

As much as we are thankful to leave on good terms with no other reason for leaving than the simple fact that God has called, it hurts. Many tears have been shed.  Feelings of guilt over leaving, thoughts of missing out on the amazing things God is doing at Fairview, and the fear of the unknown has gripped all of our hearts. 

But through this whole process, God has constantly reminded us of His promises to never leave us or forsake us. I could not imagine walking through this journey with anyone besides my love and best friend.  He has been so patient with me and has never once pressured me.  Despite moving all my life, this has been the hardest move yet.  We've never known roots could go so deep and the deeper the roots the harder they are to pull out.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For the Dads... especially our guy!

In the homeschool circle, it's easy to focus on the kids or the mom who seems to run the show, but we sometimes forget to notice the guy behind the scenes: the dad.  We forget how hard he has to work in order for us to enjoy this privilege of teaching our children at home.  Instead of noticing all the things he's not doing, let's praise and focus on all the ways he's an amazing dad and husband!

So, on this Valentines day, we (our girls and I) say Thank you!  

- for giving in silent, sometimes unnoticed ways so we can pursue the path God has called our family to take.

- for supporting me as their teacher without question, yet holding me accountable when I doubt.

- for desiring most of all to train our girls in God's word.  

- for cultivating a love of the world, both geographically and spiritually.

21 Valentine's later... our love is sweeter, our commitment to each other more strong, and our selfies crazier than ever. May we continue to love adventuring, learning, and growing alongside each other more and more everyday!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hope for the Homeschool Mom

More days than not, I look back on the day and only see my failures, I see the layer of dust, the clothes that should have been washed, the promised tea party or science experiment unfulfilled and the burden lays heavy.

Facebook can add to the guilt; Instagram inspires, but often makes me long for more, more of what?  Both distract me more than I want to admit.  Fil Anderson says we are surrounded by "weapons of mass distraction."  So true!

So often, I can throw myself into a pit of despair because I can't measure up to the imaginary moms who "homeschool and workout and bake and run triathlons and have clean houses and have business' and read their kids 18 books a week and crochet all the things... the list could go on." (Rachel Reeves)

"Comparison is the thief of joy."  It's the pep talk I give to my girls, yet why do I fall prey to it on a daily basis, if not hourly.  Let's encourage each other, remembering that each of our families are different with various interests, an assortment of talents, and a quirky uniqueness to each family unit.  Fellow homeschool mom, Toni Weber says, "You know and love your children better than anyone else.  Tailor their schoolwork to reflect their interests and learning styles as well as your teaching style.  You and your children will be much happier marching to the beat of your own drum than copying someone else."

So I say all this to not discourage, but to hopefully, encourage you homeschool moms (and anyone else who is reading this).  Hang in there!  Focus on the calling that God has given to you and your family.  Find joy in every single little success, whether it's a completed spelling lesson or a math test without tears.  Put aside the textbooks at times and rekindle the joy found in learning.  

It's February.  The time of year when we get tired of plugging through multiplication facts, repeating the definitions of nouns and pronouns, and the weather can't decide if it's still winter or spring. Grab on to this hope and hold on determining to finish the year well.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Get outside whenever possible.  Sidewalk chalk can be the perfect notetaking opportunity.  Spelling, nature journaling, simple playtime.  I've always heard that boredom breeds trouble, which is often true.  But when given freedom outside, I believe that boredom breeds creativity.  Put away the technology and let their imaginations run loose!

Homeschool away from home every once in a while.  As much as I love our new homeschool room, we all need a change of scenery sometimes.  We have some great coffee shops, bakeries, and libraries that are perfect for making our day a little sweeter.

Lastly, as we see brokenness all around us, the world seems heavy and it causes me to cling tighter to my girls.  "There is an evil whisper suggesting that I should feel hopeless, helpless, powerless and defeated.  But I am not without hope, help, power or victory.  I know where to lift my eyes.  As I look about my home today I am thankful for the ones placed in my care and for the labor before me. What the world may look upon as an insignificant day, is in fact, one drop in a tidal wave of powerful love.  I am not just preparing meals, washing laundry, reading books, wiping noses, cleaning toilets, sweeping dust - I am effecting world change within the walls of my home." - Elsie @farmhouseschoolhouse  Amen!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Looking back...

With each new year, we look forward to the one ahead, full of the unknown, full of hope.  Yet I think in order to fully embrace the year ahead, we have to look back first.  In looking back, we can see the areas that flourished and those that need some extra attention.  I spent the last few days of 2016 answering these questions.  I was convicted, challenged, and honestly, a little depressed by the answers I gave.  

Last year was my year of survival.  On the outside, those around me may not have seen anything amiss. Yet inside, the struggles were some of the most difficult I have ever endured.  God is gracious and as this new year rolls in, I am more clearly seeing His hand as He holds me up when I can't.  I praise God for my husband who is my constant comfort when my emotions come crashing down.  I am daily thankful for my girls who are more than I deserve.  So I say all this to reiterate what I've tried to say in the past, my life is not perfect.  I have struggles just like everyone else.

So what does this next year have to hold?  Rest.

I pray for rest in my home, in my marriage, in our daily school life, and most of all, in my soul.  Over the last few weeks of January, I hope to share more of what I pray this rest will look like, but for now, this is what I pray...

I pray for slow mornings centered on God's Word, sprinkled with time in good books, music, and art.  I pray that I'm not producing little Pharisees in my girls, but sisters in Christ who desire to know God more and learn with ferocious appetites.

I pray this beautiful new room (built by my wonderful husband) will be a haven over this next year, a place of retreat to dive into our studies, and focus on the calling God has placed on our family.


I pray for more time with this man of mine.  Whether it's a quick date out or some quality moments at home, I pray that our marriage will only grow stronger.

I pray for more time at home around nourishing meals, time to cook with girls.

I pray for rest in the great outdoors, for time spent in our favorite books, laughter on our new zipline, and lots of marshmallows roasted around the fire pit.

I pray for new adventures with these people I call mine. They bring such joy.  May I too find such joy as I once had.

Last, but not least, I pray for daily rest in God's word.  I pray for the strength to get up, to find a place of quiet retreat, and for God to do a new work in my life.